My first week as a full-time freelance editor and writer was highly enjoyable, quite productive, and most interesting. Since I’m just starting out, I’m really testing the waters and playing around with things a lot to see what works best for me, and what method of working is the best fit at this time.
Last week, I tried working fairly regular “workday” hours. I started working around 8am each day and finished up around 5pm or so (with breaks during the day, of course). It worked pretty well, but I’m not sure that it’s exactly the right fit for me.
Over the weekend, I put together some weekly goals (e.g. submit X number of proposals / ideas to clients) and calculated estimated number of hours I’ll need to spend on each item. All in all, it works out to be approximately 50 hours each week (including personal projects that are work-related, like learning French for professional development). And then I discovered on A Year of Productivity that the most productive number of hours one should work in a week is 35. Hmm.
This has given me a new idea: purposefully experiment with different working styles each week!
Here are a few different ways of working that I would like to play with, in an effort to see which one suits me best (i.e. which one I feel happiest with and makes me the most productive):
1) Ignoring hours and instead tracking my work through process goals. My process goals could be things like “write three magazine article drafts” or “edit two children’s books” or “get through a Rosetta Stone unit of French.” Each of these things would be measurable, and I’d be able to see how much time it might take me in a week to get these things done upon completion.
Rather than tracking my work through hours – in which case, there’s the potential to “work” for eight hours in a day but in actuality get very little accomplished – this would involve tracking my work by the actual work that I get done. What a revelation! It also allows for weekend work: so, if I get the urge to do some work on the weekend, or I’m having trouble getting into the zone on a weekday, it could all even out.
2) Work split days. My peak time for getting work done is generally between 7am – 11am, and 6pm – 9pm. That’s still a good seven-hour day… but with a seven-hour break in the middle of it. I’m really intrigued by this idea, because I would be very productive during those seven hours, and it would also work well for when we get our CSA boxes in the summer months and have a ton of preserving to do. I could preserve food all afternoon most days of the week!
The drawback here is that if I end up getting a late start to the day, or have prior commitments (such as my hour-long radio show on Friday mornings, which ends up being about a two-hour commitment when you add travel time etc.), or want to go out in the evening, that will be prime work hours lost.
3) Work shorter days, but six or seven days each week. For example, just working in the mornings could be about five hours of work each day. Again, that would be prime time for me to get quality work done – but it would also mean very few days off.
Ultimately, I expect that I’ll do some kind of a combination of all of these, depending on the time of year and my work load and so on. But I still want to experiment to see what is most effective for boosting productivity and keeping me happy and healthy!